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The ROSE GARDEN
Founded on the Persian
EBEN FRANCIS THOMPSON
By Eben Francis Thompson
yf// right? reserved
The Commonwealth Press
7 . ;
Omar Khayyam has been generally regarded as a
materialist and atheist. This view is wide of the
truth, for while he railed at formalism in religion
and at the broadening of phylacteries, there is ample
evidence in his writings of his belief in the one God
and in a future state. Like nearly all Persian poets,
Omar hymned the Grape and like many of them he
makes it a too frequently recurring theme. It is
evident, however, that many of the poems in praise
of wine attributed to him are spurious and while one
may not follow the contention of M. Nicolas who
claims that all our poet's allusions to wine are to be
interpreted in a mystical sense as referring to deity and
the contemplation of the divine, it is doubtless true
that many of them can be interpreted rightly in no
other way. It is equally evident that very many
refer to the literal Grape and it is their frequency
that gives color to the charge that Omar was a sot
as well as a scoffer. We are not called upon to con-
sider at length this last indictment except to remark
in passing that Omar's long life and eminent career
as a busy man of science would seem to negative the
suggestion that he was deep in dissipation. His in-
tellectual keenness and audacity led him to a frankness
that was quite unconventional, and we may well say
with Fitz Gerald that "he bragg'd more than he
drank of it."
It is inevitable that a man of so many sides and of
such accomplishment should have been, like Shake-
speare, variously regarded. The varying interpreta-
tions, literal or mystical, applied to his writings, his
keen power of mockery, his capacity in the mere
statement of a proposition which he contested, of
hanging his doubt or refutation thereon, contributed
to this result. For in addition to the above views
of him he has been deemed a free thinker; a man
of science; a bon vivant; a devout and orthodox
Mussulman; a railer at religion and morality; a pes-
simist; a serene epicure absorbed in the pleasures of
the present and claimed by materialist and Sufi alike.
All of which goes to show, if it shows anything, the
greatness and universality of Omar's real nature.
Doubtless if the old Persian were now permitted to
characterize himself, he would use the formula of
Bottom as applied to Snug the joiner, in the role of
Lion, "I am a man as other men are."
For it is after all the human quality, the spirit of
good fellowship that pervades most of his writings,
no less than Omar's intellectual acuteness and modern-
ity that has given him a place unique in literature.
In here offering what I believe to be the essence
of Omar's thought as shown in his principal du-
baitat, I hope to aid in the correction of some popular
errors concerning Omar the man and his Philosophy,
for while it appears that like most Orientals he was a
fatalist, he was no materialist, and while scoffing at
the unreason of certain dogmas and mocking the
apotheosis of the unessential, he was imbued with
the poet's love of the beautiful, a profound reverence
for the Infinite and a keen joy in Nature, a conviction
of the littleness and utter impuissance of man, " the
shadow of a shade," as compared to Divine might, and
lastly with a deep, abiding faith in the goodness of a
great and merciful God, however worshipped or
November 20, 1909.
THE ROSE GARDEN
OF OMAR KHAYYAM
At the beginning of our twelfth century the
fame of Hakim Omar Khayyam, Persian Astrono-
mer Royal, Philosopher and Poet, known as the
"King of the Wise," had spread throughout the
Middle East. Omar at that time was living in
retirement at Nishapiir. To him came Hasan
Mulai 'bn Ali of Meshed, a young student who
had been deeply impressed by some of Omar's du-
baitat which he had read in MSS. or which he
had heard recited at various times. To use his own
phrase they "had been written upon the tablets of
his heart." Fired with youthful enthusiasm Hasan
resolved to journey from Meshed to Nishapiir to pay
his respects to the master and to learn more of
Omar's Philosophy. To this end bringing letters
Hasan sought out Omar's house in the suburbs of
Nishapiir and presented himself.
Omar who shrunk from publicity, consistently
following his own teachings in this regard, had been
averse to receiving pupils but he was so touched by
Hasan's devotion and moved by the urgency of his
letters, that he received the young man graciously
and with simple hospitality, and after rest and re-
freshment Jed him to the small garden which em-
bowered ^iis dwelling. There seated by the side
of a small stream and under the shade of a chenar
tree over which climbed vines of the rose and
grape, master and student looked out upon the
domes and towers of Nishapur.
Responding to Hasan's request and in accordance
with the custom Omar discoursed to his pupil and
recited the following chaharbaitat, in part improvised,
and dealing with the problems of Life and Death,
Fortune and Destiny, Love and Divinity and em-
bodying the essence of his Philosophy.
The Rose Garden of Omar Khayyam
When Allah first set Heaven's swift coursers free
And hung on high Parwin and Mushtari,
Our lot was fixed in Destiny's divan;
Then why blame us for what the Fates decree?
From circling Heaven a Voice addrest my Soul,
" Learn now what Fate hath graved upon the Scroll ;
" Long since I'd freed myself from dizziness,
If I my own revolving could control!"
"Parwin and Mushtari,"
The Pleiades and Jupiter.
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
"The Good and Evil in man's mortal mould,
The Joy and Grief that Fate and Fortune hold,
Impute not to these skies, for reasoned well,
More helpless they than thou a thousand fold ! "
" For Heaven's decrees upon the Scroll remain
As at the first; unheeding Bliss or Bane
The Pen hath writ whate'er the Fates ordain;
To grieve or to resist is all in vain! ,,
And my Soul sought in her extremity
The Pen and Tablet, Heaven and Hell to see,
At length the Master wisely said to me,
"Pen, Tablet, Heaven and Hell are all in thee!"
'Tis dawn, Arise! O source of grace and drain
The brimming bowl and sound the zittern's strain !
For those who sleep like thee not long remain
And they who ve gone will ne'er come back again !
For shields are naught, by Death's sharp arrows prest,
And honors naught, silver and gold possest ;
As far as I view worldly things, I see
Goodness alone is good and naught the rest.
See! Day hath rent Night's sable veil in twain!
Rejoice thy soul, the draught of Morning drain !
O drink Beloved, for many a Dawn will turn
With wistful face to find us — but in vain !
And where is one of all who went before
Returned the Long Road's Secret to tell o'er?
Ah, hoard not treasure in your House of Life
For when once gone you will return no more !
For Heaven that makes to none its secrets plain,
Hath myriads like Mahmiid and Ayaz slain;
This borrowed moment at this transient Inn,
O Love, full oft we '11 seek nor find again !
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
This wheeling Heaven which we amazed discern,
Is but a circling lantern, we should learn,
The sun the candle and the world the shade,
And we the flitting forms that on it turn.
The myriad stars that swarm in yonder skies,
Occasion much conjecture to the wise;
See you lose not the end of Wisdom's thread,
For those who lead are dizzied with surmise.
The lights that now the roof of Heaven adorn,
That come and go and back with Earth are borne,
Now in Earth's pouch, now on Heaven's broid-
While Allah lives shall aye anew be born.
And yonder golden bowl and vault of blue
Full oft have rolled and will the ages through ;
And so too we, impelled by turning Fate,
Like others come and go like others, too.
\ l S
And long the world will last when gone are we,
Without a name or trace of thee or me ;
Before, we were not — and there was no void! —
And after, when we 're gone the same 'twill be !
Who launched the Sun in gleaming gold arrayed,
Or what can wreck Earth's base thus firmly laid,
By Learning's touchstone ne'er will be assayed,
Nor ever in Conjecture's scales be weighed !
Live while you may, you 're not like grass, 't is plain,
Which when 'tis cut down springeth up amain;
Nor are you gold O heedless one! that when
Once hid in earth they '11 dig you up again !
And if you prosper, it is not your deed,
Nor all your blame if you do not succeed ;
Whate'er you do is in the hand of Fate,
Which nor your striving nor your prayers doth heed.
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
Then knock not at each door upon your way,
With earthly good and ill contented stay ;
Whate'er the number on Fate's dice that fall
From Fortune's cup, that number you must play !
In truth, for 't is no idle simile,
Heaven plays the game and its mere puppets we,
Moved on Life's Chess-board, one by one, and
Into the Chess-box of Nonenity !
Even as the tulip lifts her chalice, so
Sitting with some fair Tulip Cheeks, do thou,
And gladly drink life's cup till it please Heaven
Swiftly with whirlwind stroke to lay thee low.
And yet the thought of death brings me no fear,
That World than this to me hath more of cheer ;
I deem life but a loan which God hath made,
And I '11 repay it when the time is here.
When in the mould my clay was mixed of old,
With it God mingled evils manifold,
Better than what I am I cannot be,
For as I am He poured me in the mould.
And if His pearl of service I ne'er thread,
Nor yet have wiped Sin's dust from off my head.
For all this of His mercy I have hope,
Because that "One is Two!" I ne'er have said.
And since time hath no bound, be of good cheer,
The stars will spangle still the heavenly sphere ;
With bricks from your dismantled house of clay,
Walls for another's dwelling, men will rear.
Let not- your soul in Sorrow's clasp be prest,
Nor let your days be filled with vain unrest;
The book, the loved one's lips and marge of mead
Forsake not till Earth fold you in her breast.
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
Like drop in mighty stream like desert blast,
Another day from our lives flieth fast,
Yet there are two days that I reck not of,
The day to come and that already past.
Then grieve not over buried Yesterday,
Nor let unborn To-morrow's cares dismay,
Reckless of Past or Future live serene,
Nor to the winds a lifetime cast away.
Life's Caravan moves on in mystery,
Seize then the joyous moments as they fly;
Why fret lest that To-morrow take thy friends,
Bring forth the cup for Night is hastening by.
Ah Love! how long with body that doth tire,
To trace the world with eager foot aspire?
All things that come and pass, depart and go,
And not one moment suiteth thy desire.
Since worldly truth is but illusion vain,
Why so distressed O Love, in grief and pain ?
Submit to Fate! What once the Pen hath writ
It ne'er will blot or write for thee again.
And do not think a single fear have I
To leave this earth, that thence my soul should fly ;
Since Death will come, his touch I do not dread,
1 T is my ill living makes me fear to die !
A jar of wine, a book of poesy,
A loaf of bread, enough for life give me,
Then sitting in some quiet nook with thee
Were sweeter than the Sultan's empery !
And he who is of half a loaf possest,
Himself to shelter hath a little nest
Who slaves for none nor is by any served,
Let him be glad for he hath this world's best!
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
And so far as you can, cause no one pain,
Lest any you inflame your wrath restrain ;
And if eternal peace be your desire,
Though vexed, from wronging any man refrain.
And since in this harsh world man's gain hath been
Only his soul's vexation and chagrin,
Happy is he who quickly flees this world,
And he who never came hath joy serene.
Those strong in virtue and of learning deep,
Who for their fellows beacon lights would keep,
Have found no way out of this darksome night,
But told their tales and got them back to sleep !
And since hand never reached the longed-for goal,
Nor to its full desire attains the soul,
Give me a glass and go, for Heaven ne'er poured
An unmixed cup from yonder turquoise bowl !
What though the tent of blue that spans us o'er
Be pitched, Khayyam, and closed Discussion's door,
The Everlasting Saki in Life's bowl
Millions of bubbles like Khayyam doth pour !
The swarming myriads in the struggle vie,
Distraught by pleasures, strife and luxury,
They drained Life's cup and silent in the earth
Wrapt in the Sleep of Naught together lie !
Long in that dreamless slumber they will stay,
Question and answer free till Judgment Day ;
How long "None from the dead brings news!"
wilt say ?
What news should any bring since naught know they?
And since the world doth tend to sadden thee
And from thy body soon the soul will flee,
Ere verdure from thine ashes springeth up
These few days on the green rest cheerfully.
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
For now Spring's joyousness o'er earth prevails,
And each glad heart the fields with yearning hails,
The boughs with flowers gleam white as Moses'
And every zephyr Jesus' sigh exhales!
Lo ! where'er blooms a rose or tulip bed,
From some kings blood it takes its hue of red,
Yea, every violet seems like Beauty's mole
Sprung from the dust of some once lovely maid !
And Zephyr rends the rose's robe in twain,
Her beauty bulbuls praise in joyous strain,
Sit 'neath this rose tree's shade for many a rose
Wind strewn in earth hath turned to earth again.
Then drink ere doth your name from earth depart,
For Cares take flight when wine hath reached the
And loose the loved one's tresses knot by knot,
Before the knots that bind your limbs do part.
O fools, the world's allurements do not buy
Since ye know her conditions certainly;
Your precious lifetime give not to the winds,
Rejoice your soul and to the loved one fly !
For somewhere hid within the heavenly vast
A cup that all must drink in turn is placed;
Sigh not when your time comes but gladly drink
For then it is your turn the cup to taste !
For every thing whether 't is old or new,
Will in its turn its end attain unto ;
And this base world abides with none for aye,
They pass and others come and follow, too.
And unto you, an adept, let me say
What man hath always been, a shape of clay,
The clay of grief cast in the mould of toil,
Who, tasting life a moment, goes his way !
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
And do you ask what is this life so vain ?
'T were long and hard the mystery to explain;
'T is but a breath borne from an unknown sea
And then blown back to that same sea again !
Thy being from Another's doth proceed,
Another's passion doth thy passion breed;
Go and within Thought's collar draw thy head,
For by thy hand Another's hand is hid !
Yon sky is but a vault 'neath which are pent
Our waning lives in toil and trouble spent;
Hell is a fire kindled by useless fret,
Heaven but a single instant of content !
A sot croucht in the desert I did see,
Belief nor Doubt, nor Goods nor Creed had he,
Nor God nor Truth nor Law nor Certainty;
Where in two worlds is like audacity ?
Ten powers, Nine spheres, Eight heavens He first
And planets Seven of Six sides then inscrolled;
From senses Five, Four elements, Three souls, God
In Two worlds, Man, like thee but ONE did mould !
In yonder palace that to heaven towered high,
Where forehead bowed to threshold, Kings did lie;
I saw a dove that on its battlements
Thus "Koo, koo, koo?" "Where are they now?"
Once King Bahrain held nightly revels there
Where wolves now prowl or lions make their lair,
How oft Bahrain's noose caught his nimble prey!
Yet see, how Death Bahrain doth fast ensnare !
And I heard on the battlement of Tiis
A bird address the skull of King Kaius,
"Alas!" moaned she, "Where sound thy martial
"Where the alarums of thy drums profuse?"
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
There in his shop a potter I did greet
And saw the master, foot on wheel, complete
Covers and handles for his pots and jars
From heads of long dead kings and beggars' feet!
"Stop!" I cried "Potter, let thy hand be stayed !"
"How long wilt thou the clay of man degrade?"
"Of what think'st thou, thus setting on thy
"Firidun's heart and mighty Khusrau's head?"
Still o'er his task the potter worked alone,
Trampling the clay, unmoved; in mystic tone
The clod cried out to him "Be gentle, pray
For thou like me wilt be much trampled on!"
"For once yon vase a hapless lover pined,
In snares of Beauty's tresses oft confined;
This handle on its neck was once an arm
That oft around the loved one's neck entwined!"
"The thorn that bends 'neath every creature's tread
May spring from some love's curl, fair brow of maid,
And every palace tile may once have been
Some Vizier's hand or mighty Sultan's head!"
And then methought "Each mote on earth ere now
Once formed some sunlit cheek or Venus brow;
Brush the dust gently from thy loved one's face
For that was once love's cheek and ringlet, too ! "
For He who did the earth and heavens array
Full many a scar on grieving hearts doth lay,
And many a ruby lip and musky tress
Hath buried in earth's treasure chest of clay.
And though fine steeds, rich jewels, arms of war
Thou hast, boast not this ten day fortune, for
None bears away his life from Heaven's wrath,
Which breaks the mug to-day — next day, the jar !
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
Lament not, then, the world's inconstancy,
Be glad an instant, seize joy ere it flee!
If aught were constant in this shifting world
The turn from others had not come to thee.
' T is but a crumbling caravanserai,
Where watch in turn its warders, Night and Day;
The palace where a thousand Jamsheds sat;
The tomb wherein a thousand Bahrams lay !
Up from Earth's center e'en to Saturn's throne
I solved all problems of the heavenly zone
And leaped out freed from bonds of fraud and
Yea, loosened every knot save Death's alone !
How long of mosque lamp or of incense tell?
How long of Heaven's rewards or pains of Hell?
See, from all time "What is to be, will be!"
Thy Master, Fate, did on the Tablet spell.
The revellers who of old wine drink deep,
And they who in the prayer niche vigil keep,
None, none is on dry land, but all at sea !
ONE only wakes, the rest are sunk in sleep !
The framework of the cup God did unite,
To break in wrath why should He deem it right ?
Those fine and comely models of Himself!
Shaped by what love and broke in what despite !
And howe'er much at Fate's hand thou dost smart,
Oppressed by Heaven however grieved at heart,
Beware lest of pure water from base hands
A drop wet thy lip, though afire thou art !
A corner and two loaves our choice we 've made,
Earth's pomp and vanity aside we 've laid ;
We have bought poverty with heart and soul
And find we've gained great riches by the trade.
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
Ah, Love ! seek not kind rule from Destiny !
Nor from Time's changes high or rich to be !
Striv'st thou to ease thy pain ? It doth increase,
Bear suffering and seek no remedy !
O Beauty's Lamp ! by stream and verdant plain
Rejoice thy soul and sound the zittern's strain !
Live blithely, for the murmuring water saith,
" Lo, when I 've gone I come not back again!"
When first Eternal Love my being wrought
Love's lesson ever to my soul was taught,
And then of my heart's dust was made a key
To ope the treasures of immortal thought.
Out on that heart wherein love hath no sway,
Nor to some charmer's witchery a prey ;
The day that thou dost pass devoid of love,
For thee is none more wasted than that day.
Yet merely worldly love no true worth shows,
Like fire half dead, with little warmth it glows ;
True love is his who months, years, day and
Recks not of sleep nor food, ease nor repose.
Love is chief volume in the world of thought ;
The burden of youth's song with love is fraught ;
Learn then this point, that life in truth is love,
O thou, who of the world of love know'st naught.
And he who toward his fellows love doth bear,
Whether to mosque or church he doth repair,
Hath his name written in the Book of Love
And gives to Heaven or Hell no thought or care.
To banish from one grieving heart its pain
Were more worth than an empire to sustain ;
And better than to free a thousand slaves
To bind one freeman in Love's tender chain.
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
Yet in this world none gains a rose-cheeked fair
Ere in his heart, fate driven, the thorn he wear;
Till this comb suffered many a cruel cleft
It never could have touched the loved one's hair!
What time my heart with youthful ardor wrought,
Few of Life's secrets were unknown, methought,
But now grown old in pondering, I find
My knowledge is as if the known were naught.
I sought all lore the sages could bestow,
And thought I knew all that there was to know ;
But hear the sum of everything I learned,
"We come like water and like wind we go!"
Closed is the volume of my youthful day,
And this fresh spring-time gladness gone for aye;
O youth, thou joyous bird ! ah ! I knew not
When here you came nor when you flew away !
O, Lord, though limitless the sins I do
Against myself, the soul and body too,
'T is that I have entire faith in Thee,
If sinning I repent and sin anew !
And what I am, I am by Thy decree,
For threescore years Thy grace hath fostered me;
For threescore more I still would sin, to learn
If my sin greater or Thy clemency.
A thousand snares Thou settest in my way
And threatenest, if I fall therein, to slay ;
Thou mak'st Thy law and call'st me rebel,
The world is free in no wise from Thy sway !
The world's astir and mad in quest of Thee,
Bare before Thee stand wealth and poverty ;
To all Thou speakest but each ear is deaf,
With all art present but no eye can see !
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
Open ! Thou Opener of doors, I pray !
And since Thou art my Guide show me Thy way !
I'll not give hand to other hand-takers,
All fleeting they, but Thou abid'st for aye !
And though creeds two and seventy there be,
The first of creeds, I hold, is love of Thee ;
Forms and obedience, doubt and sin are naught,
Thou 'rt all my aim, the rest be far from me !
Then mercy on this captive heart bestow,
Pity this bosom overcome with woe,
O pardon this my hand that grasps the cup,
And these my feet that to the tavern go !
For better there that I commune with Thee
Than far from Thee in mosques feign piety ;
O Thou of all created First and Last,
If Thou wilt, burn, if Thou wilt, cherish me !
For what I feel toward Thee I would make plain,
And that I will abridge in verses twain;
" For love of Thee I '11 lay me in the dust
That Thy dear love may raise me up again!"
Though sometimes hid Thou show'st Thy face to
Again Thou dost existent forms put on ;
This splendor to Thyself Thou dost reveal,
Thou art Spectator, Spectacle in ONE!
My highest wisdom Thy cause ne'er hath known,
And my thought turns in prayer to Thee alone !
I know Thy nature is most wonderful
And baffles mortal wit, since 't is Thine own !
My service naught augments Thy majesty,
And my past sin abateth naught from Thee ;
Then pardon and withold not, since I know
Thou 'rt slow to wrath and swift in clemency !
THE ROSE GARDEN OF
From doubt to certainty is but a breath,
A breath from infidelity to faith ;
Ah, cherish then this precious breath and learn
Life's sum is but a breath from birth to death.
For once I prest the cup, for I did yearn
Life's secret riddle in its depths to learn
And pressing lip to lip, it murmured low
"Drink! for to this world you will ne'er return!"
And when hath come for me the final day
And freed from dross my soul hath winged her way,
How oft from yon blue dome the moon's soft
Shall gild the grasses springing from my clay !
O comrades ! when ye meet as ye agree
Ye needs must pledge your friend in memory ;
And when O Saki, on thy joyous round
My time shall come, turn down a glass for me !
Ah, Love ! were thine all worldly wealth and power,
Thy garden decked with Pleasure's vine and flower ;
' T were all like dew upon the grass at night
Resting — and vanished in the morning hour !
Thou who all men's secret thoughts dost know,
In case of need who succor dost bestow,
O, Lord give me repentance and forgive,
Thou from whom penitence and pardon flow !
My body's life and all my strength Thou art !
My heart and soul are Thine, O Soul and Heart !
Thou art my being and completely mine !
And I 'm all Thine, since I 'm of Thee a part !
1 'm wearied, Lord, at this low state of mine,
And at my empty-handedness repine;
Since life Thou mak'st from naught, bring me
Into Thine own Existence, made divine !
One copy del. to Cat. Div.
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